Okay, we've put this off until the last moment, but we're ready to roll out our predictions for the game. I'm going to outline the keys to this game, and let Andrew and Andrew jump in with their own concluding thoughts at the end.
The Talent Edge
Both teams match up reasonably well in this game, except in the most critical area - on the lines. The advantage on the lines Texas should enjoy should be decisive. Let's talk about how.
First, the Texas defensive line -must- have a good game. It's hard to imagine OU won't double-team Okam on the line. If they gamble with single blocks, and Okam's not having a good game, though, Texas could be in trouble. It's going to be so critical for the Texas line to, if nothing else, eat up blockers to free up the linebackers. If there are blockers available to take on linebackers, Adrian Peterson might be ruining our Saturday.
On the flipside, the Sooner defensive line has been pretty average so far this year. They've been run on. They've not pressured the quarterback. It's just been an average group. And I fully expect our seniors - Studdard, Sendlein, and Blalock - to put a big, nasty print on this game.
If the Texas offensive line plays as well as we know it can play, Oklahoma's going to have a devil of a time with this Texas offense.
All Bets Are Off If...
Texas plays things too conservatively. Texas has an edge, but it's not a dominant one. The only thing Texas needs to do is come out and slug OU in the mouth. If the Horns tip toe around the matter of beating the Sooners, they'll have a chance to win.
Greg needs to get the offense prepped to come out and MOVE on this defense - which we're plenty capable of. The longer the Sooners stay in the game, or, God forbid, have a lead, the worse our chances are, and the more they'll get to grind Peterson. The Horns need this to be a Paul Thompson show. That has as much to do with our offense as our defense.
For the record, by conservative, I don't mean too much running the ball. Running is fine. And good. I want lots of it. When I say conservative, I mean that Greg handcuffs McCoy with only chickenshit passes. We don't need to throw often to throw effectively. Get it down the field some. Our receivers can handle it. Colt can handle it. Trust your offense.
The Ohio State loss probably helps us in a big way for this game. Texas is not in a position where it can afford to play not to lose. The offense has also developed quite a bit since that time, when the mistake of not trusting the group was made.
One hopes that those factors combine to prep Texas to come out and be the aggressors in this game. We ought to beat OU this year. I just hope we play like we ought to.
In the end, I think we will. I think the seniors on the offensive line, starting with Kasey Studdard, will set the tone for a good day for the Horns. I think Texas will run successfully, and I think we're going to get our second straight year of The Jamaal Charles Cotton Bowl Show. I also think Colt to Limas is going to be a factor, and I think our young passer will handle things just fine.
So this author, at least, is feeling good as we head into Saturday. Texas defeats Oklahoma, 31-20.
My pessimism is eating at me this morning. I do feel we will win but it will be a struggle. As cliché as this sounds, whoever runs the ball better will win. If OU gets a lead in the second half and simply hands the reins to Peterson, we lose. There is no stopping him. He will get his yards, even against the second ranked rushing defense in the country.
The other half of OU's offense is much more manageable. I am also not sold on Thompson's ability to make plays with his arm. In fact, if we force Thompson to try to make plays down the field at least one interception will be coming a Griffin's way.
As PB mentioned, our advantages on both lines will be the difference. The Horns should be able to create enough holes for Charles and Young to make plays. Colt will not be asked to win this game. As long as he doesn't force the few passes GD will trust him with, we will be ok.
Texas limits turnovers and runs down, through, and around the Sooners defense. Texas 20-17.
Defending Oklahoma will be a lot like defending West Virginia. If we stop the run we win. So expect 8 men in the box on almost every offensive play that isn't third and more than 12 (and sometimes even then). If Thompson shocks everyone and makes some big pass plays we could be looking at a closer game, but I'd bet against that. Texas 35-21